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Santorum Backs Off Pledge to Crack Down on Internet Porn

When asked last week about a statement posted to his 2012 presidential campaign website that called for reviving currently-unenforced federal obscenity laws to crack down on internet pornography, 2016 Republican presidential candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum said that he does not remember taking that position.

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Barry Donegan
Barry Donegan is a writer, musician, and pro-liberty political activist living in Nashville, TN. Donegan served as Director-at-Large of the Davidson County Republican Party from 2009-2011 and was the Middle Tennessee Regional Coordinator over 30 counties for Ron Paul's 2012 Presidential Campaign. Follow him at facebook.com/barry.donegan and twitter.com/barrydonegan

Socially-conservative Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator, is backing down from his 2012 position calling for a crackdown on internet pornography.

According to The Huffington Post, Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign website featured a statement which read, “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.

The statement added, “Current federal ‘obscenity’ laws prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.” Santorum’s statement pledged that he would revive unenforced obscenity laws to accomplish his political objective of stamping out pornographers.

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Last week, Santorum told US News & World Report that he does not recall advancing that viewpoint. “I don’t even remember that position to be very honest with you. I wish I could say I was cognizant of everything that’s on my website.” He then clarified, “I’m not, candidly, familiar with the federal laws with respect to pornography… but all I would say is whatever the laws are, unlike this president I will enforce [them].

The federal government stopped prosecuting pornographers decades ago, but National Center on Sexual Exploitation chief Patrick Trueman, a former Reagan administration prosecutor who participated in a federal crackdown on pornographers in the ’80s, is pushing 2016 GOP candidates to support a renewed war on porn.

Santorum doesn’t seem to notice that as porn has become ever-more available via the Internet, the prevalence of rape has plunged. Since 1991, the national rate has fallen by 86 percent — compared to a decline in overall violent crime of 65 percent,” wrote Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman in response to the 2012 statement on Santorum’s website.

Reason notes that a 2006 research paper by Clemson University economist Todd Kendall found that reported rapes tended to decline in states with increased access to internet pornography.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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